Guest Director Rokia Traoré unveils 2019 Brighton Festival programme with storytelling at its heart

The celebrated Malian musician Rokia Traoré has launched the full programme for Brighton Festival 2019 (, the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England. This year promises to be a wide-ranging, diverse and international Festival, encouraging audiences to meet, listen and pass on their experiences.

Featuring over 130 events with artists and performers from more than 20 countries, Brighton Festival 2019 is a space for contemporary expression from around the world. The importance of respect for all cultures and for nurturing the next generation of artists is at the heart and soul of this year’s programme. The Festival will present new and unexpected events across 25 venues and locations across Brighton, Hove and Sussex from 4 to 26 May 2019.Many events are free and over 100 performances cost £10 or less.

Rokia Traoré was born in January 1974 in Kati, on the outskirts of Bamako, the capital of Mali, and her identity is deeply rooted in West Africa Mandinka culture. She is the founder and president of the Fondation Passerelle in Bamako. Supporting the musical and artistic creation in Mali, the Foundation organises musical training courses and supports multi disciplinary artistic creations along with talks and debates about Malian society, culture,youth and the challenges they face.

With Brighton Festival, she will bring three exclusive performances to Brighton, opening with her blues rock band to perform the critically acclaimed album Né So, which translates as ‘home’ in the Bambara language. Dream Mandé: Djata is the UK premiere of her theatrical and musical project – a monologue structured around the West African griot tradition of oral history storytelling where Rokia is accompanied by two musicians on kora and n’goni instruments. Dream Mandé: BamananDjourou is a group performance with an orchestra and choir led by Rokia, with re-arrangements of traditional Malian melodies and contemporary songs by the likes of Bob Marley and Fela Kuti. Rokia’s invited guests include artists, musicians and dancers visiting the UK for the first time from Foundation Passerelle, the cultural centre established by Rokia. This collaboration will form a long-term partnership with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival that is committed to international engagement at the heart of its artistic programme. 

Rokia Traore, Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2019 commented:

‘As Guest Director, I set out to bring new voices to the city to tell their stories. Understanding other cultures is so important to the world that we live in and it brings me great joy to shed light on some unexpected voices through this opportunity. I hope that through the Festival,visitors listen to stories from far away and from right next door. Stories with characters and ideas you never could have dreamed of, stories that touch you,thrill you, bring you happiness and perhaps move you to experience life in a different way.

I am honoured to share my own stories and I’m filled with joyous anticipation to be Guest Director for this wonderful gathering of music, art, words, dance and performance. My hope is that the Festival gives everyone a new story to hand down for generations to come.’

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